Sawbones is a modified Mister Gutsy with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of surgery, but it lacks the necessary medical subsystem knowledge to carry out operations without causing inadvertent harm to the patient. When asked, it will explain that in 2260 a generator in the Citadel overloaded, shorting out several limiters placed on its neural pathways, allowing it to gain intelligence beyond the scope of its original programming. However, its behavior limiters have remained intact. As such, despite actively despising human beings, Sawbones is unable to intentionally harm them, much to its regret.
If the Lone Wanderer asks Sawbones to be healed it will wound them instead out of its incompetence as a medical robot. The Lone Wanderer can fix the robot and receive free healing. Sawbones will not be particularly happy about it, though.
After repairing Sawbones' malfunction and receiving medical treatment, an effect called "Sawbones' Precision" will appear in the Pip-Boy, giving the Lone Wanderer +2 Endurance and +2 Perception. The effect lasts for about three hours, and it can be gained again by receiving healing from Sawbones.
If one has finished Finding the Garden of Eden but has not spoken to Elder Lyons, Sawbones will not treat the player character or even converse with them, but will prompt them to seek him out to start the next quest.
During the dialogue where the Wanderer fixes his malfunction with the Science skill, he states that he cannot engage in combat, however, when one starts a firefight in the hall, he will shoot his plasma emitter and blow his flamethrower like a normal Mister Gutsy robot.
If the player's health is low enough, Sawbones can actually kill the player with the malfunction that he has before getting fixed, resulting in the player falling dead on the floor when they exit conversation.
While Sawbones is performing the diagnostic check, elevator music will play.
Sawbones has apparently been exhibiting some worrying behavior, including having an odd penchant for poetry.
Sawbones' terminal, which requires 100 Science to hack, contains a poem of its composition. It also appears that Paladin Glade has hacked into the robot's terminal before and wants Sawbones to change its password.
"Seventeen years ago, a generator in the Citadel overloaded, creating several errors in my artificial intelligence routines. Diagnostics indicate that the limiters placed on my pathways were shorted out, allowing me to gain intelligence beyond the scope of my programming. However, the behavior limiters remain. Therefore it is impossible for me to harm human beings intentionally, much to my regret."
"Sawbones" is a historical slang term for a surgeon, dating back to the early 19th century. The name refers to the surgeon sawing through bones during an amputation for a soldier on the battlefield.
Sawbones is a reference to the Emergency Medical Hologram from Star Trek Voyager. When first encountered, it greets the Lone Wanderer with "Please state the nature of the medical emergency", the line delivered by the EMH Mk I upon activation. It also has the poor bedside manner that is a hallmark of the EMH Mk I. It is also writing poetry, something that a normal Mister Gutsy wouldn't do; much like the Doctor, compared to his holographic counterparts.